Conference future for Whyalla?

RESEARCH: University student Jasmine Belford (left) has been researching whether holding a conference in Whyalla would be feasible. She is pictured with Whyalla Visitor Centre Team Leader Teresa Coles.
RESEARCH: University student Jasmine Belford (left) has been researching whether holding a conference in Whyalla would be feasible. She is pictured with Whyalla Visitor Centre Team Leader Teresa Coles.

Could Whyalla play host to a conference in the future?

This was the question University student Jasmine Belford set out to answer during a recent visit to the steel city.

Her findings suggest that there is still much to be done in Whyalla to ensure the success of a conference here in the future, but it would be possible with some changes.

A number of factors are currently holding Whyalla and the rest of South Australia from being an ideal location for conferences.

Currently Victoria holds around 30 per cent of the market share when it comes to conferences, followed by NEw South Wales with approximately 20 per cent, with South Australia down the bottom at 6.7 per cent.

Further compounding the problem is that hoteliers in Whyalla are looking for a weekend conference to help boost occupancy rates, but Jasmine's research has found that there isn't a big market for weekend conferences.

"A lot of people are wanting to spend the weekends with their family and don't really want to work over the weekend," she said.

However some of her findings suggested that should a conference be held during the week in an attractive destination, that attendees were likely to spend more time in the town afterwards.

"I thought that left a really great opportunity for Whyalla because there is a lot to do here in terms of sightseeing and history," Jasmine said.

"People don't really know what's in Whyalla, so they don't think of Whyalla. If it was spoken about in a better light people might change their perceptions."

The Middleback Arts Centre was identified as the 'most feasible' venue for a larger conference, with an auditorium that can fit around 480 people.

Jasmine said she thought Whyalla was on the right path to securing a conference on the back of hosting the BY THE C Concert and uneARTh Festival in recent months.

"I think there's a lot of opportunity here, especially with all the new infrastructure that's on the way based on what (Sanjeev) Gupta is doing," she said.

"There's a lot of talk about Whyalla."

Jasmine has been working with the Whyalla Tourism Focus Group during her time in Whyalla and has been staying at the Foreshore Motor-Inn.

"I find that the customer service here is better than what it is in Adelaide," she said.

Jasmine is putting together a report based on her findings which will be finalised by the end of May.